Topfield TBF-7120 review:

Topfield TBF-7120 Pack

Typical Price: $299.00
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3.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Cheap. Quality recordings. Easy to add larger storage. "Same stream" capability lets you watch some channels while recording.

The Bad Single tuner. Some functions are confusing. Freeview limitations such as no 30-sec skip.

The Bottom Line The Topfield TBF-7120 Pack is one of the cheapest PVRs we've seen yet, and while it lacks dual-tuner recording it's not bad for the price.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

7.3 Overall

So, if you're looking to replace your decrepit VCR you need to pay about AU$600 for a Personal Video Recorder right? Well, not any more. While Kogan has undercut everyone with its AU$99 model, Topfield has released its own budget PVR in the Topfield TBF-7120 pack. The TBF-7120 was a set-top box that enabled users to plug in their own hard drive and use it as a PVR, and now the company has bundled the machine with a hard drive for the same price.

Design and features

The TBF-7120 is a single-tuner set-top box, which usually means you can only watch or record one channel at a time, but thanks to some wizardry on Topfield's behalf you can now watch a different channel on the same "stream" as the one you are recording. For instance, if you're taping Nine HD you will be able to watch Go or Nine SD as well. While not as flexible as a dual-tuner set-up, it's not a bad stop-gap solution. You also have the option of turning Time Shift on or off — so you can pause and rewind live TV — though you will lose this ability if you're also recording something.

The TBF-7120 is a bare-bones set-top box (STB) and so perhaps not the most stylish unit around. It's a black oblong featuring a green, four-character LED readout and a bright blue power button on the front.

The hard drive itself is fairly nondescript with a small plastic stand and the Topfield logo printed on it. The drive has a 320GB capacity and links to the STB via the single USB on the backside of the unit. You'll also need a spare power point to power the drive.

The PVR is Freeview compliant, which means that there's no 30-second skip, and you're limited to 6x fast-forward and 3x rewind. However, there is also MPEG-4 compatibility for if and when Australia ever moves to a better broadcast standard.

For your AV needs the outputs include HDMI, component, composite and digital optical.

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